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“Hit-and-miss authentic”
Review of El Cholo

El Cholo
Ranked #67 of 681 Restaurants in Santa Monica
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $1 - $30
Cuisines: Mexican, Latin, Spanish
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Large groups, Business meetings, Bar scene, Kids, Families with children
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Lunch, Full Bar, Outdoor Seating, Parking Available, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Takeout, Television, Valet Parking, Waitstaff
Neighborhood: Santa Monica
Clarence, New York
Level Contributor
27 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Hit-and-miss authentic”
Reviewed November 19, 2012

We were in Santa Monica on business, and (due to the fact that my hometown has exactly ONE decent authentic Tex-Mex restaurant) were craving some authentic Tex-Mex.

We were told about El Cholo, and decided to give it a try.

Our party was seated in an airy, outside patio (very nice) and were immediately treated to the typical complimentary chips and salsa (also very good). The menus were filled with fantastic choices; so many, in fact, that we all decided to order a bunch of items and split them all.

Our order included: Aged Cheese Quesadillas, Guacamole, Handmade Flour Tortillas, Blue Corn Enchiladas, Chicken Chimichangas, and Green Corn Tamales.

Overall, the food was well-prepared and presented; additionally, the Tableside preparation of our Guacomole was also very well done, and enjoyable - a nice touch. However, the chicken in some of the dishes seemed to be a bit stringy and dry, and have a bit of an aftertaste.

However, the most curious thing was this: some of the dishes served did not seem to match up with either the "Tex" or the "Mex" I have sampled in both Texas and Mexico. I don't know if this is merely due to "Americanizing" some of the dishes, but it was somewhat dissapointing to me. As an example - I absolutely LOVE tamales, but the El Cholo version was more like a crumbly, sweet corn casserole. Now, this is not an indictment on ALL their dishes, and we only tried a relatively small subset, but... I have had better. Also, the price seemed a bit high as compaired to the portion size and quality.

  • Visited September 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank DavidWMiller
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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194 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    63
    87
    31
    11
    2
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Spanish first
  • Swedish first
  • Any
English first
United States
Level Contributor
258 reviews
132 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 90 helpful votes
“Excellent Mexican for a Chain”
Reviewed November 13, 2012

I had the filet mignon tacos. They were prepared to perfection! The food overall was far better than I am accustomed to in a chain. Authentic Mexican food at decent prices. I would go back!

  • Visited October 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Traveler_200950
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Worcester
Level Contributor
31 reviews
18 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Better Than Expected”
Reviewed November 13, 2012

I've eaten at dozens of Mexican restaurants in Mexico and the U.S. This one ranks among the best for price and quality. Nice hacienda style environment, comfortable booths, great margaritas, fresh and delicious food. Strongly recommend the fish tacos. Incredible! Almost didn't go to El Cholo based upon mixed TripAdvisor reviews, but we deferred to a strong recommendation by a local merchant with no connection to the restaurant other than his patronage.

  • Visited November 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank TravelHound101
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Liverpool
Level Contributor
18 reviews
11 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Very disappointing”
Reviewed November 12, 2012

We visited El Cholo this August having had a great meal there two years ago while on holiday, but apart from the fantastic Margueritas we thought we were in a different restaurant. There was a bad smell from the drains as you went up the stairway, but this wasn't noticeable at our table. Three out of four of our main courses were cold and the food wasn't presented well on the plates. The taste was nothing outstanding either. The decor is tired in the restaurant & it definitely needs a new carpet. All in all shame because we had so enjoyed our previous visit.

  • Visited August 2012
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Julie516
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Malibu, California
Level Contributor
221 reviews
158 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 57 helpful votes
“Fun atmosphere, good food, and best margaritas in LA.”
Reviewed October 11, 2012 via mobile

The title says it all. A must-experience for all visitors to LA. It's an institution. Service isn't always good, but the food and drink are consistently above average. Reservations suggested. And ask for the hot salsa-it isn't on the menu-must be a prize for being local.

    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank hanoibelle
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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